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Is Tyler Thigpen Fantasy Gold Or Fool’s Gold?

The Kansas City Chiefs’ decision to start Tyler Thigpen for the rest of the season after losing quarterbacks Brodie Croyle (knee) and Damon Huard (hand) to season-ending injuries back in Week 7 seemed extremely fantasy-irrelevant at the time. Why? Thigpen was not regarded as a legitimate fantasy option even by the most desperate owner. The Chiefs then-third string quarterback had played poorly during his only previous 2008 start, completing 14 of his 36 passes for 128 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions against the Atlanta Falcons in Week 3, which represented a predicted best-case-scenario level of fantasy production that many had expected from him during the rest of the season.

 

However, Thigpen has not stunk – he has surprised. Is it crazy to think Thigpen is a fantasy star of the future? Before you start rolling your eyes and laughing hysterically, remember how many fantasy experts had ridiculed the Chicago Bears for turning to quarterback Kyle Orton this season after he was buried on the club’s depth chart for the last two years? Orton was playing well before suffering an ankle injury two weeks ago, and it looks like he just needed a chance to prove himself. Does this sound like what is happening in

Kansas City due in part to the club’s puzzling obsession with the very unproven Croyle?

 

Although the Chiefs are 0-3 in Thigpen’s last three starts, you can’t blame the losing streak on him. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Thigpen, during the last three weeks, averaged 34 pass attempts, 22 completions, 237 passing yards, two touchdown passes and – get this – zero interceptions per game. He topped the 260-yard passing mark and threw for multiple scores in two contests. In addition, Thigpen posted passer ratings of 110.9, 89.4 and 108.4, respectively, in those games. This unexpected success from the virtually unknown Thigpen begs the following question: Who is this guy?

 

The Thigpen Transcript

 

Tyler Beckham Thigpen was born April 14, 1984, in

Winnsboro,

South Carolina, which is where he still lives during the offseason. Thigpen played college football for the Division

I-AA

Costal Carolina University

Chanticleers

. In case you’re wondering, chanticleer is another word for rooster. Thigpen has the distinction of being the first person to ever play quarterback at the school, because Costal Carolina started its football program in 2003.

 

Tyler Thigpen – COLLEGE STATISTICS

PASSING

RUSHING

YEAR

CMP

ATT

YDS

TD

INT

CMP%

ATT

YDS

AVG

TD

2003

58

136

705

5

4

42.6

81

282

3.5

3

2004

78

158

1,008

8

4

49.4

55

251

4.6

1

2005

133

246

1,589

11

6

54.1

97

437

4.5

4

2006

217

339

3,296

29

11

64.0

113

656

5.8

5

CAREER

486

879

6,598

53

25

53.3

346

1,626

4.7

13

 

 

Thigpen was redshirted as a true freshman in 2002. As you can see from the statistics in the above table, Thigpen (30-8 as a starter) improved every year, enjoying his best season in 2006. The

South Carolina native was named Big South Conference Player of the Year during his senior season and became the first player in school history to earn consensus All-America honors. Thigpen also received various conference honors during his college playing career.

 

Here was Thigpen’s profile heading into the 2007 National Football League Draft, keeping in mind that many had thought he would not be selected. ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper had said Thigpen, in his opinion, was, “…kind of like [Tony] Romo” in terms of raw talent.

 

Tyler Thigpen, Costal

Carolina

University

Height:

6-foot-1

Weight:

224 lbs

Positives:

Arm strength, scrambling ability, athleticism, leadership

Negatives:

Accuracy issues, played against weak competition, considered a project

 

When the Minnesota Vikings selected Thigpen in the seventh round (pick 217 overall), he became the first player from the Big South Conference to be drafted by an NFL team. Thigpen competed with quarterbacks Tarvaris Jackson (Minnesota Vikings), Brooks Bollinger (Dallas Cowboys) and Drew Henson (free agent) for a roster spot but couldn’t climb the depth chart. The Vikings released Thigpen September 1, 2007, apparently with the intention of re-signing him to their practice squad. However, the Chiefs inked Thigpen to a deal the following day.

 

Thigpen’s pro career got off to a slow start. He made his NFL debut in 2007 during a Week 13 contest against the San Diego Chargers, playing in relief of an injured Huard. Thigpen completed two of his six passes for 41 yards with zero touchdowns and one interception. The following week, Thigpen suffered a torn MCL at practice and was placed on Injured Reserve, which ended his season.

 

Tyler Thigpen – 2008 REGULAR SEASON STATISTICS

WEEK#

OPP

RESULT

CMP

ATT

COM%

YDS

TD

INT

Week 2

Oakland

L, 08 – 23

14

33

42.4

151

1

1

Week 3

Atlanta

L, 14 – 38

14

36

38.9

128

1

3

Week 5

Carolina

L, 00 – 34

05

10

50.0

37

0

0

Week 6

BYE

Week 7

Tennessee

L, 10 – 34

5

11

45.5

76

0

0

Week 8

N.Y. Jets

L, 24 – 28

25

36

69.4

280

2

0

Week 9

Tampa

Bay

L, 27 – 30

14

25

56.0

164

1

0

Week 10

San Diego

L, 19 – 20

27

41

65.9

266

3

0

 

Croyle was the opening day starter, but he suffered a shoulder injury and did not return until Week 7. Thigpen made his 2008 debut in Week 2, playing in relief of an injured Huard, who had started in place of Croyle. As mentioned, Thigpen received his first career NFL start in Week 3. The Chiefs elected to start Huard in Week 4 and in Week 5. Thigpen took some snaps in garbage-time during the club’s Week 5 loss to the Carolina Panthers. In Week 7 versus the Tennessee Titans, Huard and Croyle, as discussed, both suffered season-ending injuries, which opened the door for Thigpen to start.

 

Thigpen’s Fantasy Forecast

 

Is Thigpen on his way to becoming the franchise quarterback that the Chiefs desperately need? Discussing that topic in depth is beyond the scope of this article, but I’ll give you some quick thoughts. It’s a foregone conclusion that Croyle is not the answer, and Huard is obviously in the twilight of his career. If Thigpen continues to play well, Kansas City would be smart to build their offense around him in 2008 and either draft a promising rookie quarterback or land another signal-caller via free agency or via a trade just in case the 24-year-old Thigpen turns out to be a one-year wonder like quarterback Derek Anderson (Cleveland Browns).

 

From a fantasy perspective, Thigpen looks safe to use as a No. 1 quarterback in favorable matchups for the rest of this season, and I do not see a legitimate reason to say otherwise. He is making good decisions and effectively spreading the ball around to tight end Tony Gonzalez, wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and new wide receiver Mark Bradley (Chicago, you gave up on Bradley too soon). Thigpen will have to throw frequently to keep the club in games, because the

Kansas City defense continues to struggle mightily. In addition, running back Larry Johnson is expected to return to the starting lineup in Week 11, which should provide some nice offensive balance to keep enemy defenses from focusing on Thigpen.

 

Here is

Kansas City’s remaining schedule:

 

DATE

WEEK #

OPPONENT

PASS DEF RANK

Nov. 16

Week 11

New Orleans

27

Nov. 23

Week 12

Buffalo

16

Nov. 30

Week 13

@ Oakland

13

Dec. 07

Week 14

@ Denver

28

Dec. 11

Week 15

San Diego

32

Dec. 21

Week 16

Miami

25

Dec. 28

Week 17

@ Cincinnati

10

 

The schedule is obviously very favorable for Thigpen. The Chiefs, however, may opt to run more and pass less against

Oakland’s pathetic rushing defense in Week 13. Although Thigpen’s matchups in Week 14, Week 15 and Week 16 are very favorable – this is when most fantasy leagues have their playoffs – he may have to deal with winter weather conditions at

Denver and at home during those dates, which is something that Thigpen owners should keep in mind.

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